Did Team Obama Blunder or Conspire in Ukraine?

By:  Sheldon Richman
03/24/2014
       
Did Team Obama Blunder or Conspire in Ukraine?

While no one ever lost money overestimating the capacity of the U.S. government to blunder, we cannot rule out that American officials knew exactly what they were doing when they helped provoke the crisis in Ukraine.

It is hard to believe that all these officials are so ignorant of Russian history that they could not anticipate how President Vladimir Putin would respond to U.S.-backed machinations in Kiev. These machinations led to the ouster of elected (if corrupt and power-hungry) president Viktor Yanukovych after street demonstrations, which included neo-Nazi elements now represented in the new government.

About these machinations there is little doubt. We have a phone call between Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, in which they talk about who should rule Ukraine next. Nuland says, “I don’t think Klitsch [an opposition leader, Vitaly Klitschko] should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.... I think Yats [Arseniy Yatsenyuk, another opposition leader] is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.” Yatsenyuk became the prime minister after Yanukovych’s ouster.

Pyatt responds, “I think you reaching out directly to him [Yatsenyuk] helps with the personality management among the three [opposition leaders].”

The U.S. government worked to replace Yanukovych with its “guy” — which is not what the Obama administration tells the American people.

Pyatt adds, “But anyway we could land jelly side up on this one if we move fast.... [W]e want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing.”

This phone call made headlines because Nuland used an obscenity regarding the European Union. But the news is that, contrary to public statements, the Obama administration sought to “midwife” regime change.

One need not be a Putin apologist to ask how the Americans failed to see that this activity would provoke the Russian president.

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